Monday, February 25, 2008

Starbucks and other observations

Julia, 11 weeks

I took Julia for a walk to Starbucks the other day. I thought it a good idea to get her started on places of cultural interest from a young age. As I struggled with the heavy glass door (a complicated maneuver involving my generously proportioned butt to secure it while attempting to get the pram up the small step), the people inside simply stared at me without offering to assist. It was as though I were a strange 'one-person and her pram' circus performance specifically designed for their entertainment.

I'm beginning to wonder if, by having a pram, I'm now viewed in the same category as the metal detector people you see in parks and along beaches. They're usually dressed in trench coats, wear large ear phones, and have funny little hats on. You kind of make a wide birth when you encounter them, afraid your belt buckle or tooth fillings might excite them.

I was in Pret the other day (you're seeing a pattern here right?) buying a couple of coffees. The guy behind the counter, a particularly ill-tempered camp Spaniard who knows me as a regular, assumed I had paid. I corrected him and made a joke to the effect of, "Damn, I shouldn't have said anything and I would have got a free coffee," to which he responded by making them on the house, amidst my embarrassed protestations. Moments later he chased a hungry homeless man out for trying to steal a sandwich.

I used to watch shows like Oprah where they give the stay at home moms a makeover and would think to myself that those women just lacked imagination and effort. I mean, there's a hell of a lot you can do with a hairdryer and some rouge right? Well my judgment has come back to haunt me. I'm seriously thinking of sleeping fully-clothed. That way when people come to the house at two in the afternoon, a time I've usually still failed to bathe, brush my teeth, and dress, I'll look as though I'm on top of things.

Yep, time. It's taken on a whole new meaning for me. When Julia sleeps I wash bottles, make bottles up and stick them in the fridge, have a quick shower, eat a piece of toast standing at the kitchen counter, go through the post, and check my email. The latter doesn't take long because I don't get many these days. I mean you've got to send them to get them right? My friend Jeff wrote and asked me if I was pissed off with him because I've been failing hopelessly at my side of our correspondence.

And when I'm not being a lousy friend, I'm stomping up and down Regent's Park like a maniac, along with all the other mother's and their prams. We all have vacant glassy--eyed looks, as though we inhabit a surreal subterranean world somewhere between sleeping and waking, where everything happens in 3-4 hour repetitive cycles.

Even my dreams, which I used to take an interest in analysing, are now completely fragmented thanks to the 30 or 40 minute sleep bites I get per hour. Instead of one long Freudian epic, they now resemble disjointed montages, as though a bored teenager is channel surfing in my head. Whoever said, 'Sleep when the baby sleeps' didn't have a baby. Or rather, wasn't a new mom who stirs at every little peep her baby makes.

And yet, and yet, despite being a badly groomed zombie, I'm also quite enjoying this mothering thing, albeit in a dazed kind of way. Julia is now communicating her needs in sounds other than crying, which is a baby's usual form of communication. She's also eating a whole lot more milk in a sitting and is growing bigger before our eyes. And her hand-eye coordination is progressing in leaps and bounds with her now reaching out for and gripping her toys. These things sound very basic, but I've watched her progress from a tiny little baby that had little acknowledgment of and interaction with the external world, into a smiley little girl that gets a thrill out of embracing a toy panda that's as big as her.

In their journey through this new world these little people make such enormous progress even from one day to the next, and it makes me feel incredibly fortunate and exited to be along for the ride. The unshaved legs and relentless exhaustion become worthy sacrifices, or at least that's what I keep telling myself.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Waterside Inn

My friend Louise pointed out that I hadn't done a restaurant review in a while. I retorted that I wasn't sure how interested people would be in my opinions on Domino's Pizza - the extent of my culinary adventures these days. But as luck, a trusted baby sitter, and a voucher from the folks would have it, Roberto and I were able to venture off to the Waterside Inn last night.

Yes, because there's nothing like a tasting menu with accompaning wine to help rid oneself of those remaining post pregnancy kilos.

So the Waterside Inn is quite famous, or so I'm told. I had no idea about it until we got given the voucher and my mom-in-law, who's a foodie, told us it has three Michelin stars. Is it just me or does anyone else find it a bit weird that two of the most famous three Michelin starred restaurants in the UK are not in central London but in Bray of all places?

Anyway I digress. So if it was that famous and most likely posh, chances are I had to dress up, which was not an easy task considering NOTHING in my closet fits me at the moment. Eventually, after many failed attempted outfit ensembles that left me with a strong sense of self loathing, I managed to put together something that (a) fit me, and (b) had little risk of bursting at the seams after the first course. No comment regarding the stylistic appeal of the finished product.

The Waterside Inn is, as its name suggests, situated at the side of the water. At one point a rowing team streamed past with another little boat alongside shining a spotlight on it. A surreal thing to see at night from the window of a restaurant, and especially when one has only started consuming what would be a vast succession of fine glasses of wine.

I'm not a foodie so I'm not going to waffle on in a course by course breakdown. To summarise it was very good; classic French cuisine - beautifully cooked, presented and flavourful. What it wasn't was surprising or mouthwateringly memorable, the kind of thing you'd expect from a three Michelin starred restaurant. In my humble, non-foodie opinion, the food lacked the wow factor that we've enjoyed at Le Gavroche (owned by the same Roux family), and certainly nowhere near the likes of Guy Savoy in Paris.

If it were rated by the ambiance and service however, I'd say it was every bit worth three stars. Water, wine (an amazing selection chosen for us by the sommelier), glasses and plates, were seamlessly filled, delivered, and removed . There was never a moment where I thought, 'I'd like more water,' or 'We've been waiting a while for the next course.' The waiting staff and kitchen clearly worked together as a beautifully orchestrated team, and the floor management was evidently top notch. Staff were also extemely professional and polite without being stuffy, which can be the downside to a restaurant of that caliber.

It goes without saying that at the end of the evening, the bill was fairly cough inducingly steep. But with the voucher and a sense of reckless abandon that getting a wonderfully enjoyable night off from being a milk machine affords you, we viewed it as a worthy indulgence.

Friday, February 15, 2008

An apology to Morgan Fairchild

I'm feeling bad this morning. I wish I could say it was following a night of debauchery - the only justifiable kind of bad one should feel at this time of the day. But alas, no. I got what I like to believe is a genuine comment on my blog from Morgan Fairchild following a short piece I did on her.

I wrote the entry a while back and rereading it this morning I realise that while I was complimenting her on how youthful she looks, I was also being quite insulting - though again purely for literary humorous effect. If the comment was indeed made by her, she took the piece in what I perceive to be a dignified good humoured way, but I still feed bad.

The thing is you write these blog entries with tongue firmly in cheek, and there's a part of you that feels free to be as acerbic and sarcastic as you like, because you are talking about an idea of a person rather than an individual. I suppose that's what the whole movie star system does to our perception of these actors. They aren't so much 'real' individuals as they are characters we feel free to discuss, criticise, make jokes about etc. Also, it still amazes me that regular people read my blog, let alone the famous and infamous ones I write about from time to time. I mean, surely they have better things to do like play super bitch villains?

So I want to take this opportunity to say I'm very sorry Morgan Fairchild. It wasn't personal, although I imagine when your career is based to a large extent on image and what people say about it, it can feel that way. For the record I think you're great, always have, and I'm sure you don't sleep in formaldahyde. You look hot and it would be good to see you on our screens again.

Photo source: imdb

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull

Yay, the trailer for 'Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull' is finally out! Boo, it's crap. I don't know who puts this shit together but they did a bad job. If I weren't already a fan I wouldn't be tempted to go and see the film on the back of this, but I'm posting it anyway.

If you can't see the clip, click here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

33 with a bullet

I turned 33 yesterday. I'd completely forgotten about my birthday until a week or so ago when Robert reminded me by saying he'd like to take me to dinner. This is very out of character for me, because usually I'm completely narcissistic about the occasion, and am planning a party or get-together weeks in advance. This year the only planning we did involved booking the restaurant, and a discussion about just how much champagne I could quaff before having to express and dump.

That's what having a child does to you. You don't only trade in your youthful perky breasts for saggy puppies ears, but you forget to be self indulgent, which, admittedly, is never a good idea.

Most years I write in my diary detailing how I feel about turning a year older, what I've learnt, what I hope for the future etc. This year I feel blessed to have a lovely little girl, a wonderful loving husband, and a supportive family and circle of friends. What I hope for is the continued health, safety, and happiness of the above-mentioned people, many more seasons of CSI, and a lot more sleep. I realise I'm being overly ambitious, but one needs goals.

And speaking of ambition, I'd very much like to get my figure back this year, though I'm not entirely sure I ever had one. Saying that, I was looking at some photos from 2006 recently, specifically one in which I remember thinking, 'I wish I were 5kgs slimmer.' A prevailing thought as I sausaged myself into the over-priced dress I'm wearing in the picture - the kind you fit into for 5 minutes after starving yourself for a week, and which then hangs in your closet forever after; a constant reminder that you will never ever be that thin again. Now I look at that photo and cannot believe how good I looked. Perhaps there really is something to that horrendous cliched crap that people email you about 'Right now being the best time in your life.' Either that or next to my current physical state pretty much anything looks good.

Julia is coming along in leaps and bounds. She's discovering her little voice, and makes a lot of baby sounds which she clearly finds thrilling, because these are accompanied by big smiles. When she's doing this 'talking' she watches your mouth, which I find interesting. It's recommended you make these sounds back to babies to encourage them to discover language, which usually has Robert looking at me like I'm a nutter. I mean surely everyone knows what 'Ooombahhh' means??? He really has to get with the programme.

I've gotten used to less sleep, not that I thought I'd ever say that, but it's true. I think the bluish grey circles under my eyes lend my features a certain haunted look that I lusted after as a teenager. I now also manage the 5.30-6am feed without walking into walls, so evidently I'm getting better at this.

And on that note, I have a little lady to attend to who is feeling it unnecessary to have her morning sleep when there are so many more fun things to be doing. Imagine being only 8 weeks in this world and absolutely everything is new, interesting and exciting? Even your own little fist which you regularly punch yourself in the eye with as you closely examine it. I suspect there is something to be learnt from this
lustful, albeit risky at times, Joie de vive, but I'm afraid I'm just too damn tired to think of anything right now.

Good advertising

If you can't see the clip, click here.

A big thanks to the lovely Mags for the tip :-)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday from the Porn Awards 2008

I don't usually do politics on here. As for porn, well, that's another matter entirely. Writing about it that is. But this was simply too hard to resist - The porn industry's take on Super Tuesday (US voting thingy that's happening today). A huge thank you to Roberto for the tip.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Chocolate Sunday

Last night we were watching that inspired piece of epic cinematic gold, aka Rocky Balboa. Throughout those many, many (many) beautiful flashback scenes, a sustained image of someone in a hot bath with their wrists cut open kept entering my mind - can't say why. Robert, on the other hand, was yelling at the screen, as you do when watching a Rocky film. Afraid his enthusiastic commentary would wake our daughter who was asleep upstairs, I turned to him and said, 'If you wake her up I will kill you.' I think it's safe to say our relationship has entered into a new phase.